Ma Shaoxuan, Studio for Listening to the Qin, Ox Street district, Beijing, dated 1898 (the thumb ring: 17401898) Sold with accompanying watercolour by Peter Suart 2.88cm diam.
Treasury 4, no. 582
水晶內畫花蝶圖搬指 搬指﹕1740～1898 內畫﹕馬少宣，北京牛街，1898年
An inside-painted thumb ring
Flawless crystal, ink, watercolours, and silver; of cylindrical form with the upper rim concave and the lower one rounded; painted on the inside with a continuous scene of seven butterflies of different species in a flower-strewn meadow, inscribed in regular script 'Executed in early spring in the year wuxu by Ma Shaoxuan', followed by two seals of the artist, Shao and xuan, both in negative seal script, the interior lined with silver to protect the painting Ring: 17401898 Painting: Ma Shaoxuan, Studio for Listening to the Qin, Ox Street district, Beijing, early spring 1898 Height: 1.42 cm Diameter: 2.88 cm
Condition: Thumb ring: tiny indentation to the silver on the top rim. Painting: studio condition, but silver backing has oxidized, giving the painting a smoky-looking background.
Illustration: Watercolour by Peter Suart
Provenance: Emily Byrne Curtis Sotheby's, London, 2 July 1984, lot 295
Exhibited: Sydney L. Moss Ltd., London, October 1987 Creditanstalt, Vienna, MayJune 1993 Christie's, London, 1999
Artists of the Beijing school of Zhou Leyuan rarely produced works of art other than snuff bottles, the exceptions being Ding Erzhong, who produced a range of other arts; Ma Shaoxuan, who left behind a few calligraphic works and this archer's thumb ring; and Ye Zhongsan, whose Apricot Grove Studio produced two miniature vases dated 1916 and 1917 (JICSBS, Spring 1984, p. 54, fig. 150 and p. 56, figs. 156 and 156a).